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Cuttack: The Orissa high court on Thursday said police excesses must be stopped immediately at Dhinkia, the site of the proposed JSW steel plant, and directed the state government to submit to it a status report on the situation there after the Jagatsinghpur district collector failed to do so.
The status report should be submitted by a senior officer of the home department and detail the ground realities of the area with reference to the grievances mentioned in two PILs filed by a local woman and three advocates alleging police atrocities on villagers who had protested against the demolition of their betel vines.
Police excesses, high-handedness and brutality in any form by the local police have to be immediately stopped, a division bench headed by Chief Justice S. Muralidhar said after hearing the petitioners’ advocates.
The bench directed advocate general Ashok Kumar Parija to ensure that the status report is filed in the form of an affidavit and posted the matter for hearing again on January 31.
The advocate general, who appeared in person during the analogous hearing of the two PILs, informed the court through memo about the present situation at Dhinkia village and denied the allegations levelled against the district administration, particularly against the district police.
He also informed the court that a steel and a cement plant would come up in the area, which would immensely boost its economic condition.
He, however, admitted that some locals had objected to the land acquisition, which triggered a clash between the police and the protestors.
Three advocates of the high court petitioned the court that the normal lives of the residents of Dhinkia village have been severely affected since the violent clash between the villagers and the police on January 14 due to the “excess action” by the force.
Many villagers are still hiding in the jungles nearby and are not able to gather courage to return to their homes, the petition said.
Forty villagers, including children, women and elderly persons were injured in the clash in which five police personnel were also injured.
The other petition alleged high-handedness by the police and the district administration and urged the high court to direct the government to withdraw the force from Dhinkia.
Taking note of the petitions, the court directed the state government to ensure that the villagers are allowed free movement in the area for gathering their essential provisions like ration and medicines.
Meanwhile, a delegation of political leaders drawn from over 12 opposition parties met governor Prof Ganeshi Lal at the Raj Bhavan during the day and submitted a memorandum to him requesting his intervention to stop the police atrocities on villagers in Dhinkia.